The Couch Potato Report

Should you need a film, or DVD, to watch thsi weekend, here are a few suggestions…or ones to stay away from!!

The Couch Potato Report – May 31st, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels the WHA, the fall of the Roman Empire, and we remember a great director.
There will be a lot of remembering this week here on The Report, and we will start that with the HOT POTATO by remembering the World Hockey Association.
I am sure that you know that the WHA operated from 1972 to 1979, and I am also quite sure that you know that after the 1978-79 season the Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Winnipeg Jets joined the National Hockey League, so I won’t spend any time this morning recapping the league’s history.
Instead, let me add to the knowledge and memories you have by telling you that THE WHA CHRONICLES – a 3 DVD Set celebrating the league – is now available and it includes three full games, including Game Six of the Avco Cup final between the Oilers and Jets at Winnipeg Arena.
And for you trivia buffs…here is the answer to the question: Who scored the last ever goal in the WHA?
Yes, Dave Semenko scored the final goal in WHA history, even while a man who is the most renowned goal scorer in the history of hockey was also on the ice.
This set also lets us see the WHA play of some other very familiar names, and Hockey Hall Of Famers in their own right.
Including a certain, Mr. Hockey!!
In addition to the games, this Limited Edition set also has a six minute fight reel, a feature on the history of the league, all new interviews with Bobby Hull and Wayne Gretzky, and much more!
THE WHA CHRONICLES isn’t an all-encompassing history lesson on this onetime rival to the NHL, but since many of it’s games were never shown on television, or even filmed, it does a great job preserving what is available.
This is a great DVD Set, whether you remember the WHA yourself, or have just heard about it for years.
Now while are remembering…hey, remember when John Cusack made fantastic films?
In movies like SAY ANYTHING, HIGH FIDELITY, GROSS POINTE BLANK, ONE CRAZY SUMMER, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, and THE SURE THING Cusack was so good playing an unconventional hero that you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the roles.
But as I mentioned a few weeks ago when I spoke about Cusack’s film MARTIAN CHILD, he seems to have lost his way of late, picking films that just don’t work, and the results have been some really bad movies.
Sadly, that downward trend continues with GRACE IS GONE.
In this well-meaning movie Cusack plays a man who’s wife dies in Iraq, and he just can’t bring himself to tell that to his two young daughters…so he takes them on a trip.
GRACE IS GONE has some touching moments, but it is lacking in emotion. A woman, a mother, a soldier has died, and since the movie doesn’t let us meet her, there is no real emotional attachement to that death, however meaningful it might be.
Plus, there are more than a few scenes in the film that don’t seem to really fit in with the rest of the story, and the end result is a film that I just can’t recommend.
I don’t necessarily blame John Cusack for the failure of GRACE IS GONE….I just wish he could remember how solid his choices used to be, and try to find a film worthy of his talent…and legacy.
Nope, when it comes to John Cusack films, he doesn’t make ’em like he used to.
And when it comes to Hollywood and epic motion pictures, they don’t make ’em like they used to!!
Hey, remember the good old days of filmmaking?
Well, if you do, and you miss them, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is one from that era!!
This is one of those classic films that had me saying: “They don’t make them like this anymore!!”
THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is a 1964 epic film that stars legendary Canadian actor Christopher Plummer, the always beautiful Sophia Loren, Sir Alec Guinness, James Mason, Omar Sharif, and a cast of thousands.
THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE features the glory, the greed and grandeur that was Rome, all recreated and filmed for you to enjoy.
The film was a financial failure at the box-office, and at three hours it is a bit long….but it remains one of the great screen epics and it is finally available on DVD for the first time in a digitally remastered 3-DVD deluxe edition.
Nope, “They don’t make them like this anymore!!” and as a film fan who remembers when they did, that is too bad.
Up next this week is DARFUR NOW. And this film serves to remind us that while we get to enjoy a mostly peace filled life, (START THE CLIP NEW!!) there are others who don’t.
There have been so many unbelievable things have happened to the people of Sudan over the course of the past decade – that it is getting more difficult every day to fathom the suffering caused by the ongoing civil war and burgeoning ethnic strife.
DARFUR NOW is not a completely compelling documentary, but it does succeed at shedding more light on the region, and clarifying the ongoing conflict as it offers up inspirational stories of regular people – and celebrities like Don Cheadle and George Clooney – who have actually made a difference there…and here.
If you want to see DARFUR NOW, you can actually buy it for about $8. And by buying it for just a few dollars more than it would cost you to rent it, after you’ve seen it, you can pass it on to others to watch.
Finally this week, it had been my intention to begin this year’s FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD back this week, as an alternative to the action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season.
But on Monday, a great filmmaker and actor passed away, so I will tell you about the Dutch film WAITER next week.
This week, we remember and celebrate Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack who died on Monday at the age of 73.
Pollack was a Hollywood mainstay who achieved commercial success and critical acclaim with films like THE FIRM, THE WAY WE WERE, ABSENSE OF MALICE, THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, BOBBY DEERFIELD, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, the period drama OUT OF AFRICA, and the gender-bending comedy TOOTSIE.
In addition to his work as a director, Sydney was also an actor, having recently appeared on the TV shows WILL & GRACE and THE SOPRANOS an dthe films MADE OF HONOUR and MICHAEL CLAYTON.
Pollack died of cancer Monday afternoon at his home in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, and he was surrounded by family.
I have been surrounded by his work for as long as I can remember, and I will always be a fan.
Sydney Pollack, thank you for the movies and memories! May you rest in peace!!
Sydney Pollack’s TOOTISE, MICHAEL CLAYTON, OUT OF AFRICA, THE WAY WE WERE and many of his other films are all available now on DVD, along with the new releases GRACE IS GONE, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, DARFUR NOW, and the great, limited edition, 3-DVD Set – THE WHA CHRONICLES.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
THE WILD HORSE REDEMPTION is a film about hardened criminals who are given 90 days to tame wild mustangs.
THE BRONX IS BURNING is the television mini-series that features baseball’s triumph over the turmoil and hysteria of the summer of 1977 in New York City.
SEMI-PRO is the latest sports comedy from Will Ferrell
Also next week, VINCE VAUGHN’S WILD WEST SHOW is a documentary about Vaughn and four stand-up comedians living on a bus and performing in 30 cities.
And if you need an alternative to the action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie, well, once again next week I will give you one as THE FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD returns with the Dutch film WAITER!
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!